Position of object pronouns with infinitives

Look at the object pronouns in these sentences with infinitives:

Je peux la rencontrer aujourd'hui.
I can meet her today.

Valérie doit le garder.
Valérie must babysit him.

J'aime l'écouter.
I like to listen to him.

Tu veux les acheter.
You want to buy them.

Nous allons lui parler.
We are going to talk to her.

Je vais leur téléphoner.
I'm going to phone them.

Note that generally, when object pronouns are used in sentences with infinitives, they are placed right before the infinitive.

 

See also Replacing nouns with le, la, l', les = it, him, her, them (direct object pronouns)

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Je peux la rencontrer aujourd'hui.
I can meet her today.


Tu détestes les entendre.
You hate to hear them.


Valérie doit le garder.
Valérie must babysit him.


Je vais leur téléphoner.
I'm going to phone them.


J'aime l'écouter.
I like to listen to him.


Nous allons lui parler.
We are going to talk to her.


Tu veux les acheter.
You want to buy them.


Q&A Forum 6 questions, 13 answers

Bonjour. How about 'I want him buy it. I want you go. I want you listen. etc? Thanks a lot.

Asked 2 months ago
HeatherB1Correct answer

Do you mean I want him to buy it,  I want you to go, I want you to listen? 

Even though these sentences use an infinitive in English, they don’t in French. I is the subject of want but you is the subject of go. As each verb has a different subject they are each conjugated separately. 

Je veux qu’il l’achète. Je veux que vous alliez. Je veux que tu écoutes.

I want that he it buys. I want that you go. I want that you listen.

As an added complication even though you definitely want, the buying, going or listening may or may not happen so they are conjugated in the subjonctif mode ( level B2). That is why the verb endings may look slightly different.

Bonjour. How about 'I want him buy it. I want you go. I want you listen. etc? Thanks a lot.

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lui or le?

How do I know if I should do "J'aime l'écouter" vs.  "J'aime lui écouter."?
Asked 8 months ago
ChrisC1Correct answer

The verb écouter takes a direct object, hence it is J'aime l'écouter.

Whether a verb takes a direct or indirect object (some take both, some change meaning with one or the other) needs to be learned together with the verb. There's no hard and fast rule. For example télephoner takes an indirect object while appeler uses a direct object:

J'ai téléphoné à Marie. -- I phoned Marie (Marie is the indirect object).
J'ai appelé Marie. -- I called Marie (Marie is the direct object).

 

lui or le?

How do I know if I should do "J'aime l'écouter" vs.  "J'aime lui écouter."?

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I can meet her today

I can meet her today = je peux la rencontrer aujourd'hui. 

Why do we use "la" instead of "lui'? I'm confused as to when to use le and lui, la and lui. What's the difference?

Asked 11 months ago
ChrisC1Correct answer

Hi Anne,

le/la are the direct object pronouns whereas lui is the indirect object pronoun. 

Je lis le livre -- Je le lis. Direct object "le livre".   

Je parle à Anne. -- Je lui parle. Indirect object "à Anne". 

Check out this page for a principal understanding of direct and indirect kbjects: 

https://www.myenglishpages.com/site_php_files/grammar-lesson-direct-indirect-object.php

Got it. Merci, Chris. 
De rien ;)

I can meet her today

I can meet her today = je peux la rencontrer aujourd'hui. 

Why do we use "la" instead of "lui'? I'm confused as to when to use le and lui, la and lui. What's the difference?

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Écouter takes direct object pronoun?

From the lesson: J'aime l'écouter. (I like to listen to him.) Écouter = to listen to Isn't this use of 'him' an example of an indirect object, and therefore, "J'aime lui écouter", correct? Unless écouter isn't a verb that's usually by à, but it sure seems that it is.
Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1Correct answer

J'écoute le prof. -- I listen to the teacher.

J'écoute de la musique. -- I listen to music.

But never: j'écoute à....
Consequently no lui/leur.

-- Chris. (not a native speaker).

AurélieKwiziq language super starCorrect answer
Bonjour Lewis et Chris !

Indeed the verb écouter in French takes a direct object:

écouter [quelque chose] to listen to [something]
In "écouter de la musique", the "de" isn't a preposition, but the partitive article [de la = some] used with uncountable nouns (you can't say une musique, deux musiques...).

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

Écouter takes direct object pronoun?

From the lesson: J'aime l'écouter. (I like to listen to him.) Écouter = to listen to Isn't this use of 'him' an example of an indirect object, and therefore, "J'aime lui écouter", correct? Unless écouter isn't a verb that's usually by à, but it sure seems that it is.

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Why is it: je vais leur téléphoner but tu détestes les entendre?

Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq language super star

Bonjour Christine,

It's a question of indirect vs direct objects.

In French, the verb téléphoner requires the preposition à: Je vais téléphoner à mes parents. The preposition makes mes parents the indirect object, so it has to be replaced with the indirect object pronoun leur.

In comparison, the verb détester does not need a preposition: Tu détestes entendre tes parents, so tes parents is the direct object and is replaced by the direct object pronoun les.

Here are some lessons you might find helpful:

Direct objects

Indirect objects

Many thanks, I think I will have to spend some time getting my head round this concept! Christine
Hi Christine -- Spanish has very similar constructions. I find it helpful to think of it as "to", as in "I gave the book to her". You then just have to adjust to each verb because many don't need "to" in French where they do in English - and vice versa. Eg. "I listen to my parents" becomes "I listen my parents" in French. "I'll phone you" becomes "I'll phone to you". Then the direct/indirect object pronouns fall into place without having to think further. It's a simplification and doesn't ALWAYS work, but as you get to know which verbs do or don't take "à", it's generally a good mental shortcut. I hope that helps! Charles.
Thanks - that could be the light bulb moment for me!
Thanks - that could be the light bulb moment for me!

Why is it: je vais leur téléphoner but tu détestes les entendre?

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J'aime l'écouter.=I like to listen to him.Is it n't 'listen him' unlike mentioned in lesson

To get the meaning "listen to him" = "lui écouter". Is it appropriate?. Request clarification

 

Position of object pronouns in sentences with infinitives

Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Yellamaraju, J'aime l'écouter is correct. There are a few French verbs where the preposition required in English is in a sense built into the French verb. Écouter means "to listen to," regarder means "to look at," chercher means "to look for," etc. So even though we need a preposition in English, we don't in French.

J'aime l'écouter.=I like to listen to him.Is it n't 'listen him' unlike mentioned in lesson

To get the meaning "listen to him" = "lui écouter". Is it appropriate?. Request clarification

 

Position of object pronouns in sentences with infinitives

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